Tricky Transitions

Transitions are one of the trickier parts of motherhood, I think. Newborns passing through those nighttime fussy stages in their early weeks; infants tackling the awkward stage of learning to sit up independently only to topple over with a bonk; babies shifting from multiple daily naps to one longer sleeping stretch; toddlers testing their talents for climbing, jumping, throwing, somersaulting, and various other acrobatics; preschoolers aspiring for autonomy but still in search of frequent mommy and daddy check-ins.

These transitions and countless others keep us parents on our toes, particularly with several little ones at home and someone always in the midst of one or more developmental changes. When I initially encountered these various transitions as a first-time mom, I was stunned, wondering how things could change so suddenly just as I was starting to get the hang of a mothering routine. What in the world was I to do with a toddler who insisted on being wide awake for two hours in the middle of every night? Would I ever leave the house again without toting a porta-potty? Would my child ever voluntarily eat a green vegetable? These questions stumped me.

And then I discovered the key characteristic of childhood: it's temporary. The intense newborn days, the snuggly baby days, the hilarious toddler days, the whimsical preschooler days: they are all just temporary. When mired in a particularly challenging transition, it can seem anything but temporary; and yet, it soon passes and a new one emerges.

The constancy of childhood transitions, their unpredictability even once we learn to anticipate them, is what keeps motherhood so challenging and engaging, I think. As I learn more with each child just how quickly transitions pass, I am trying to embrace them more fully, trying to surrender myself to them and experiment with new ways of making these transitions easier on all of us.

So, as my two-year-old enters the transitional stage of either not napping and being more cranky and fragile during the day, or napping but staying up to a nighttime hour that makes mom cranky and fragile, I am making an effort to remind myself that this too shall pass...quickly...just like childhood.